Fifties from Tammy Beaumont and Player of the Match Nat Sciver took England to a commanding eight-wicket win over Australia in their IT20 tri-series opener.
England won the toss and chose to bowl – with Alice Davidson-Richards, Katie George and Bryony Smith all presented with their first England cap – and after a strong start from Australia they fought back to restrict them to 149/8.
In reply England lost Smith and Danni Wyatt early but Sciver and Beaumont were in imperious form, taking on the Aussie bowlers to see their side to victory with three overs to spare.
It was George of the new trio who got the first chance to impress, and while it may not have come in the form of a wicket it did come with a run-out, securing a direct hit in the follow-through of her own bowling to send Beth Mooney back for four.
Alyssa Healy at the other end was continuing her recent good form and Australia were in an ominous position after the powerplay at 49/1.
Healy contrived to pick out deep square-leg off the bowling of Sciver and after two big sixes in the same over Ashleigh Gardner did the same thing.
Two more wickets came and they fell to England’s pair of wily T20 experts. Jenny Gunn got the first – Ellyse Villani caught by Davidson-Richards at fine-leg – and Dani Hazell the second, Ellyse Perry very smartly caught at short cover by Heather Knight.
Sophie Molineux, Delissa Kimmince and stand-in skipper Rachael Haynes – who fought something of a lone hand with an important 65 – carried the innings to 149/8, with Gunn taking three wickets.
After a racing start England had done very well to fight back and restrict Australia to such a score, on a pitch that Australian skipper Meg Lanning (absent through injury today) had viewed as a 180 track the day before.
England’s new-look opening partnership of Smith and Wyatt headed out to get England’s campaign off to a winning start but Smith fell for one, a ricochet off her own foot ending in a bizarre stumping.
Wyatt carried on the aggression and she found a fired-up Beaumont for company at the other end. Wyatt went for a sparky 18 but Beaumont was rocketing along, at one point hitting Megan Schutt for four consecutive fours.
Her new partner Sciver was equally attacking, hitting Perry for two sixes in a row, and Australia had no answers to their hard running, their invention and their ability to find the boundary.
Both batters reached their half-centuries and were still together when England got over the line; an eight-wicket win with three overs to spare a strong start for Mark Robinson’s new-look England side.
They will face India on Sunday in the second match of the series before taking on Australia the day after.
Heather Knight (Berkshire, captain)
Tammy Beaumont (Kent)
Kate Cross (Lancashire)
Alice Davidson-Richards (Kent)
Sophie Ecclestone (Lancashire)
Tash Farrant (Kent)
Katie George (Hampshire)
Jenny Gunn (Warwickshire)
Alex Hartley (Lancashire)
Danielle Hazell (Yorkshire)
Amy Jones (Warwickshire, wicketkeeper)
Anya Shrubsole (Somerset)
Bryony Smith (Surrey)
Nat Sciver (Surrey)
Fran Wilson (Middlesex)
Danni Wyatt (Sussex)
22 March – 1st IT20: India v Australia, Mumbai
23 March – 2nd IT20: Australia v England, Mumbai (England win by eight wickets)
25 March – 3rd IT20: India v England, Mumbai
26 March – 4th IT20: India v Australia, Mumbai
28 March – 5th IT20: Australia v England, Mumbai
29 March – 6th IT20: India v England, Mumbai
31 March – Final: Mumbai
6 April – 1st ODI: India v England Nagpur
9 April – 2nd ODI: India v England, Nagpur
12 April – 3rd ODI: India v England, Nagpur
Report courtesy of the ECB